How to Balance School and Work as an Adult

Thứ bảy - 27/04/2024 01:08
As an adult, you have obligations. You've got a job. You pay bills. You may even have a family — a spouse and/or children. You need to work, but you'd also like to go back to school and achieve something greater. It might seem impossible...
Table of contents

As an adult, you have obligations. You’ve got a job. You pay bills. You may even have a family — a spouse and/or children. You need to work, but you’d also like to go back to school and achieve something greater. It might seem impossible to balance all of these responsibilities, but it can be done with a little ingenuity, a lot of planning, and the support of your loved ones.

Method 1
Method 1 of 5:

Scheduling Your Time

  1. Step 1 Create a flexible schedule.
    Some parts of your schedule are going to be inflexible, such as class times and work days. Fit homework and studying in when you're not in class or at the office. Build a routine that you can stick to, but are able to adjust if other important things come up. As a working student, you have to be ready to adapt to new assignments, unexpected errands, and sudden work crises that need to be addressed immediately. Make enough studying time in your schedule so that if something comes up, you can shift it into another slot during the week.
    • Get a calendar. Write out what you need to accomplish each and every day. When you accomplish a task, check it off with a pen. This way you'll be able to still see how much you've accomplished, while keeping your future tasks organized.
    • If you have other members in your household, keep your calendar posted where everyone can see it. That way, they can avoid making plans that involve you during times when you aren't available.
  2. Step 2 Use a planner...
    Use a planner. A planner is especially useful if you have a lot of appointments and your days are so varied that you have trouble keeping track of your schedule. Fill in all of your fixed appointments - class times, work times, due dates, and familial obligations. This way you'll know exactly when your free time is, so you can schedule studying sessions or leisure time.
  3. Step 3 Try a smartphone.
    Most smartphones have calendar and to-do list functions on them. Apple and Google products have the capability to sync with your laptops and desktop computers so that you can share your schedule between devices. If you add something to your calendar in your smartphone - a new assignment's due date for class, perhaps - it will appear on your home device as well.
  4. Step 4 Share your schedule.
    Talk about your schedule with your friends and family. Give them a glimpse into what the life of a working student looks like and they might just empathize - perhaps, they'll even try to make your life easier. At the very least, they'll know when to expect you and when to leave you alone to conquer your other goals.
    • Sign up for an online calendar and send the URL to the people who depend on knowing where you are and when. You can use a special calendar site, or just share a Google Calendar with them.
  5. Step 5 Plan your academic path.
    Figure out what steps you need to make it to where you want to go and set goals for yourself. Do you need 5 courses to finish a program? Find out when they're offered and create a multi-year schedule. Every school is different. Go see an advisor and get them to help you map out your entire program, so you know what to expect.
  6. Step 6 Make time for your family.
    As you fill out your schedule also include time for your family and family obligations. Create a separate column for things you need to do to keep your house in order, your spouse happy, and your children well. Schedule things like laundry and family meal times alongside studying and other work related activities.
    • If you have children, make sure their needs are met. You'll have to take them to daycare/school. Some jobs and schools even provide daycare for their students.[1] They'll need to be fed and you'll need to spend as much time as possible with them. Make sure that you don't neglect your children while going to school.
  7. Step 7 Schedule a weekly social activity.
    You want to maintain your friendships. At the beginning of every week, schedule something fun to do with your friends for the upcoming weekend. It will show that you are still making an effort to be friends and it will give you something to look forward to during the week.[2]
  8. Step 8 Make time for yourself.
    With all of your responsibilities, you probably have a hard time finding time to get everything done, let alone give yourself any down time. However, in order to avoid burnout and stress, it's important to schedule some "me time" every week. Even if it's just an hour where you sit in a coffee shop and read a book for fun with no kids around, make yourself a promise that you will make time to keep yourself happy and healthy.[3]
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Method 2
Method 2 of 5:

Developing Efficient Study Habits

  1. Step 1 Get organized...
    Get organized. Keep your school materials organized and in one place so that it will be easy to find them. Mark upcoming deadlines on your calendar and start school projects early to allow sufficient time to complete them in case other things come up in the meantime. If you're taking several courses at once, don't spend all of your time on one course while other deadlines begin to loom on the horizon.
  2. Step 2 Take great lecture notes.
    Focus on the main ideas covered in each class rather than all the superfluous information. Focus on noting steps in larger processes, summary statements (therefore, consequently), information that your professor repeats frequently, and everything written out on the board or in handouts. This is the information your professor will draw from for your tests. Focus on it.[4]
    • If you have to miss class for some reason, ask a classmate if she'll take notes for you.
  3. Step 3 Find a study sanctuary.
    Find a place where you can study comfortably and without interruption. Make sure that you have a comfortable chair, a table, adequate lighting, and all the study materials you need for that study session.[5]
  4. Step 4 Reduce distractions while you’re studying.
    Turn off your cell phone and television. Leave your email alone. Keep away from social media. The key to efficient studying is to focus all of your efforts on the task at hand.[6]
    • If you are easily distracted by social networking sites such as YouTube, Facebook, or others, download one of several applications designed to regulate your access to them and to increase your focus. When you are done with your work, you can unblock access to all the sites as before.
    • Make sure that your family understands that your study time is important. They should know not to interrupt you while you're studying. Don't feel bad about telling people that you cannot help them while you're studying.
  5. Step 5 Review regularly, don’t cram.
    Start studying the first day of class and review your materials on a regular basis. Don’t put it off to the last minute and then try to cram a month or more’s worth of work into a single study session. Your brain won’t be able to process and retain all that information in one fell swoop. Your brain is a muscle and like other muscles, constant repetition builds strength. You can’t just go to the gym, lift one really heavy weight, and expect to be better for it. You need to go to the gym (to study) frequently and in short bursts, gradually building up to more difficult levels.[7]
  6. Step 6 Talk to your professors.
    If you don’t understand a topic, visit the source. Professors hold regular office hours and/or answer emails relating to specific content questions. Create an open dialogue with your professor. It will help you jump hurdles in the class more quickly.[8]
  7. Step 7 Visit your school’s tutoring center.
    Many schools have free or cheap tutoring services staffed by fellow students or graduates. Rather than spend hours mulling over the same material at home, only to still not understand it, visit someone who does like a tutor.[9]
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Method 3
Method 3 of 5:

Working Efficiently

  1. Step 1 Make a list of the tasks you need to accomplish.
    Compile a list of both easy and difficult tasks. Note emails that you need to return, forms to be submitted, meetings to attend, and any other things you need to complete by the end of the day.[10]
  2. Step 2 Organize your list.
    Place the most important tasks at the beginning of your list and the least important at the end. If you find any tasks that seem inconsequential or unnecessary, get rid of them. Don't waste your time with "fluff" work. It will only hurt your productivity. [11]
  3. Step 3 Organize your work space.
    Getting organized is the first step to a really productive day. The main steps are decluttering, strategically organizing forms and information, and maintaining that organization.
    • First, get rid of anything you don't need while you're at work. Knick knacks and family photos are ok, but anything else should be put in another room. You need to create a clean space free of distractions.
    • Second, determine what forms or information (e.g., business cards, standard forms, email lists, payroll logs, or data reports) you need to have readily available. Purchase folders and place each kind of information in the same place. This way you'll know where to find it in the future.
    • Third, at the end of every day, do some basic maintenance to your organization system. Make sure all forms are put away properly. This way when you arrive in the morning, you won't be confronted with a mess.[12]
  4. Step 4 Harness the power of teamwork.
    Delegate tasks. Break up complex assignments into manageable parts and then assign those parts to individual members of your team. Don't waste days to complete a task that a small group can accomplish in a couple of hours.[13]
    • Remember that it's okay to say "no" to additional responsibilities. If someone asks you to help on a project that you just don't have time for this week, explain that you'd usually be happy to help but you have a deadline for school that you can't miss.
  5. Step 5 Consider talking to your boss.
    If you choose to, emphasize how your proposed plans will help you gain valuable skills or qualify you for a promotion. Sell her on your education plans. If your boss gets onboard, it will be easier to navigate between school and work. She might even be able to help you adjust your work hours when necessary to accommodate school work.[14]
    • You'll need to weigh the pros and cons of talking to your boss. Some bosses won't find your education advantageous to them or their operation.
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Method 4
Method 4 of 5:

Dealing with Stress

  1. Step 1 Keep work and school separate.
    Don't worry about work while you're at school, and vice versa. Focus on one thing at a time. Don’t bring your books or notes to work and don’t bring work stuff to school. The time you are at each place is dedicated to that endeavor. If you work hard at work, you shouldn’t feel guilty for focusing on school when you are at school.
  2. Step 2 Take those much-needed breaks.
    Give yourself time to collect yourself when you need it the most, so you can return to work/school with a clear head. Go for a walk. Read a newspaper. Make some tea. Try to take breaks every couple of hours, but limit them to 5 to 10 minutes. You don't want to turn them into time wasters.
    • Avoid indulging in guilty pleasures too often during your breaks. Everybody has them, whether it's MTV, getting lost in idle chit-chat with your neighbor, or scanning Facebook for hours on end. If there's an activity that you tend to get caught up with, but that negatively affects your work-school-life balance, avoid it like the plague. And certainly don't turn to them during your brief breaks.[15]
  3. Step 3 Be active...
    Be active. Stretch. Swim. Run. Lift. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle helps relieve stress and you'll find that the more you get out and exercise, the easier work and school will seem. Exercising is commonly known to reduce stress. Scientists have shown that regular participation in aerobic exercise leads to decreased stress, elevated and stabilized moods, improved sleeping habits, and increased self-esteem.[16]
  4. Step 4 Get enough sleep.
    Make time in your schedule to sleep. Studies have shown that sleep increases your memory capabilities, improves your overall mood, and helps you stay attentive. All three of these will positively affect your stress levels. Staying up all night studying may be necessary on occasion, but don’t make it a regular thing. If you become sleep-deprived, take a short nap (15 to 30 minutes) just to give your brain a little boost.
  5. Step 5 Eat healthy...
    Eat healthy. Eat high-fiber, carbohydrate rich foods. Scientists believe that carbohydrates cause the brain to produce elevated levels of serotonin, a hormone with relaxes us. Eat lots of fiber to regulate your system. Eat fruits and vegetables that are high in antioxidants to boost your immune system. Citrus fruits provide plenty of vitamin C. Acorn squash and carrots are great sources of the antioxidant beta-carotene. A balanced diet will lead to a healthier school-work-life balance.[17]
    • Avoid fatty foods, excessive caffeine usage, and sugary treats. Meats or cheeses contain light levels of fat, which thickens your blood and leaves you feeling lethargic. Caffeine probably seems like a necessity, but consume it responsibly and don’t let it affect your sleep schedule. Lastly, sugar is simple carbohydrate that will give you a momentary high, only to leave you with a “crash”. Choose complex carbohydrates instead like pasta, beans, and lentils.[18]
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Method 5
Method 5 of 5:

Adopting the Right Mindset

  1. Step 1 Be realistic.
    There may not be enough time for everything, so get your priorities straight and don't beat yourself up if you don't accomplish every single task you've set out to do on a given day. Stay positive and be thankful that you have the opportunity to make a living and get an education — two things many people in the world go without.
    • Going to school and working at the same time is not for everyone. Be realistic and prioritize. Don't let going to school jeopardize your income and your family's well-being.[19]
  2. Step 2 Remember why you're doing it.
    By taking on work and studies at the same time, you're accepting a challenge that many wouldn't dare attempt. But, you wouldn't be doing it if you weren't motivated. Maybe you want to pay your way through school and remain debt-free or you want to get ahead in your career. No matter what, be sure to keep your goals in mind whenever it starts to feel like too much.
  3. Step 3 Allow others to help you.
    If you try to accomplish all of this by yourself, it will be infinitely more difficult. If you find yourself increasingly irritable, withdrawing from social interaction, distracted or forgetful, anxious, or emotionally strained, talk to someone. Talk to your significant other, your parents, your friends, or even a professional counsellor. Many colleges have full-time counselors, advisors, and therapists that can help you work through your issues. One of the first steps to success is knowing how to depend on others.[20]
  4. Step 4 Keep your momentum.
    Don’t start and stop. Taking a semester off may seem like a fine idea, but only do so for extraordinary circumstances, such as illness, serious injury, or a death in the family. If you find you are tiring of school, reduce your course load for the next semester and take at least one class that you’ll enjoy. Otherwise, you risk losing the momentum and never returning.
  5. Step 5 Try keeping a diary of your work daily.
    What you aspire to do each day and what you actually managed to do. This will help in attaining your goal on a daily basis.
  6. Step 6 Celebrate little and big successes.
    Create some sort of progress measurement. Cross completed classes off of a list or use a countdown clock to measure time to completion. This will help keep your eyes on the prize. When you make it over small and large obstacles, commemorate your achievements with friends and family.It doesn't matter if it is a good grade on a paper, passing a class, or graduating. It is necessary to celebrate to keep yourself motivated.[21]
  7. Step 7 Know that it can be done!
    It may seem overwhelming at times, but remember that other people have gone through the same thing you are and they have succeeded. You can too.
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